R.I.P. VHS June 1977 – October 2008

So I guess I’m writing an obituary for VHS, it’s a strange feeling.VHS is no more. The last company that was producing VHS cassettes has ceased production. The last shipment of VHS tapes has left the warehouse. No more VHS tapes. 31 years. That’s a long time. We may sneer at VHS today, but not me. I love VHS. And while it’s true that I don’t watch VHS much anymore and my DVD and BluRay collections now dwarf my once mighty VHS collection, I still hold a special place in my heart for VHS and have a large number of treasured cassette tapes which I will never part with.

It’s hard to believe now that there was a time when VHS revolutionized the entertainment industry. Before VHS people just didn’t have extensive movie collections, it was too expensive. Before VHS, if you wanted to own a film, you actually had to own FILM and a projector with which to show it. I can remember the day my dad brought home our first VHS machine. It was this top loading behemoth. By today’s standards it’s practically Jurassic.


Unlike the machine that would come afterwards, the early VCRs were equipped with about 10 million different buttons and dip switches. I can’t really remember why to be perfectly honest. That machine was like Magic to me when I was a kid. I remember watching my dad install it, sitting in our basement, wood panelling on the walls, carpet that went part way up the wall, fake stone work surounding the fireplace and the hole where the TV went.

I can remember watching so many movies down there. I remember watching Star Wars a million times. I remember the red lettering on the spine of the cassette. I remember explaining to my dad at the ripe old age of 4 How Princess Leia was right, that if Tarkin tightened his grip, anything he happened to be holding, like metaphorical star systems, would slip through his fingers, because they’d have to. I found that metaphor brilliant when I was 4.

I watched Tron about a million times on that machine until my parents eventually forbade me from renting it anymore. I had so many tapes recorded off the TV. Movies, cartoons, holiday specials. That VCR meant a lot too me. It had a profound impact on my life. That machine is solely responsible for making me the movie buff I am today. The Force only knows where I’d be now without it. I might have gotten into sports! Holy Sith!

Today we mourn the passing of a great format, yet we shall not greive. VHS lead a full and rich life, and enriched our lives more than we could ever measure. VHS goes to its eternal rest secure in the knowledge that its successors are proudly moving forward, delivering ever increasing levels of picture and sound quality, bringing us ever closer to the day when the experience of watching a movie in the theatre will be mirrored in our own homes.

Thanks for the memories VHS, it was fun.

~ by Pagz on December 31, 2008.

3 Responses to “R.I.P. VHS June 1977 – October 2008”

  1. VHS was an important stepping stone, but let’s face it, VHS also sucked. Anything outside the most mainstream film was insanely expensive, which is why tapes like Evil Dead would be bootlegged to video hell, and the quality was often so low as to be practically unwatchable. Pan & Scan, tracking problems, wearing out, VCRs eating your tapes. Nothing that I will ever miss about them. It’s great that they launched the home video revolution, but they were still a terrible format, just like cassette tapes. Both of them were only significant because of their ease for home recording. Bootlegging launched the video industry. Isn’t that interesting? Now people say bootlegging is killing the movie and music industries. They clearly have no grasp of their own histories.

  2. I found the first few paragraphs of this article to be particularly enlightening on the whole home video revolution thing: http://jabootu.net/?p=540

  3. I still use MiniDisc.

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